Ford has called on the UK government to outline a clear plan this year to prepare the country for the 2030 ban on the sale of most new non-zero-emissions cars.
Speaking during the Financial Times Future of the Car summit, Ford of Europe boss Stuart Rowley said that a government-backed plan led by a cabinet minister is required both to encourage consumers to switch to EVs and to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is put in place to support them.
Rowley wants that place in place before the United National Climate Change Conference (COP26) that the UK is hosting in November.
“In the UK, we’re calling on the government to put in place a clear plan,” said Rowley. “It has to be led at the ministerial level, but it needs to involve local governments as well as national, utility providers and industry participants. We think we should have that in place prior to COP26 so we can get on and implement that plan.”
Ford has pledged to electric its European fleet by 2030, with every model sold from them on being plug-in hybrid or electric.
Rowley said: “We’ve made our decision, and the [car] industry largely has made a decision on the way it’s going. That’s no longer up for debate. Policymakers have made statements about where they want to go and bringing forth legislation, but the reality is we need a plan to get there.
“We’re planning actively to change our business, with over $3 billion [£2.1bn] of investment behind that plan in Europe, and we need [government] plans to help consumers make the transition, particularly around the infrastructure and support. Charging is critical, and we’re going to have to go much faster in terms of charging points.
“We also need to help customers with this transition. Electric vehicles today are more expensive, and we’re going to have to incentivise their purchase and use. There’s a lot of that in place across Europe, some more successful than others, but what we would ask for is a long-term view: to put [incentives] in place, say how long they’re going to be in place and allow car makers and consumers to make that transition.”
Rowley said ensuring that new EVs are affordable and accessible to all is also vital to ensure that customers will switch.
“Importantly, when it’s a ban on combustion-engined products, that means nobody can buy them,” said Rowley. “If we’re not successful, then what will happen [after 2030] is people will keep hold of older, more polluting vehicles, particularly less affluent customers.
“They need to come on this journey as well. We can’t leave people behind: we need to bring all parts of the country. It’s different if you live in London or the rural north of England, and we need everyone to participate.”